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Andrew Gillum responds to Trump cabinet member ‘cotton pickin’ remarks: ‘Go back to Georgia’

'We're trying our very best to end this race on a high note,' Gillum said in response to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's comments in Polk County.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, addresses the media as Sen. Johnny Isakson, right, listens during a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Friday, May 13, 2005. Four Georgia military bases, including three in the Atlanta metropolitan area, are being recommended for closure by the Pentagon. Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station-Atlanta in Marietta and the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens were included on a nationwide list released Friday of about 180 military installations recommended by the Pentagon for closure. (AP Photo/John Amis) ORG XMIT: GAJA101
Published Nov. 5, 2018

Democratic nominee for Florida governor Andrew Gillum on Sunday laughed off remarks from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who used the term "cotton-pickin' " when discussing the governor's race during a Saturday an event in Florida.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor, was campaigning for Gillum's opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, when he told a Lakeland room: "Public policy matters. Leadership matters. And that is why this election is so cotton-pickin' important to the state of Florida. I hope you all don't mess it up."

Gillum would be the state's first African American governor if elected.

Asked about the remarks on Sunday, Gillum told CNN:  "He should go back to Georgia. We'll take care of Florida."

"We're trying our very best to end this race on a high note," Gillum said. "As I have said throughout the campaign, we're working to give voters something that they can vote for and not just against."

DeSantis' campaign told Politico,  "We were happy to have (Perdue) in Polk County campaigning with us," but referred questions about the comments to Purdue's federal agency.

DeSantis has repeatedly faced questions about surrogates and supporters who made suggestive, and sometimes overtly racist, comments. At a recent debate, DeSantis said he wouldn't return donations he received from a supporter who used the N-word when tweeting about President Barack Obama.

"What he said was unacceptable and that's just the end of it," DeSantis told a Miami television station. "But we obviously had no agency in that at all and it really has nothing to do with me. So let's just focus on the issues. I can't control other people social media."

On his first full day as the GOP nominee for governor, DeSantis said on Fox News that Florida voters should not "monkey this up" by electing Gillum.